In a shocking move, the judge overseeing the retrial of Joseph Weekley, has dismissed the felony charge of involuntary manslaughter against him. Weekley was charged with the felony after he led a Detroit Swat team no-knock raid on a home that resulted in him shooting 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones killing her. It is highly unlikely Weekley will face any prison time even if convicted of the remaining misdemeanor charge of careless discharge of a weapon causing death.
The felony count of involuntary charges was dropped with Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway stating, “There is no evidence, in this court’s opinion, that supports willfully disregarding the results to others,” The judge also said, “Gross negligence means more than carelessness; it means willfully disregarding the safety of others, the key word here is ‘gross negligence.’ I don’t see evidence that the defendant willfully disregarded the results to others.”
Roland Lawrence, chairman for Justice for Aiyana Jones Committee said, “”Not only is Judge Hathaway circumventing the role of the jury, she has totally lost sight of why Weekley is on trial,”.
It an way not only were Weekley’s actions on trial but also the use of no-knock warrants. No-Knock warrants are executed much like a criminal home invasion when one wants to take the occupants of house by surprise. One could say that no-knock warrants amounts to gross negligence and a willful disregard for the safety of everyone inside a home is not the target of said warrants. No-knock warrants are used mostly in drug raids to prevent the occupants from flushing drugs down the toilets. These type of unannounced raids have lead to deaths of people inside the homes at the time of the raid and the deaths of officers who are mistaken for burglars or home invaders.
The prosecution is weighing its options and may file an emergency appeal of the judges decision but experts say it would likely be unsuccessful.
The Detroit News reports,
However, the U.S. Supreme Court last year ruled that, once a judge grants a directed verdict, the decision cannot be appealed.
The case, Evans v. Michigan, involved Lamar Evans, who was accused of burning down a vacant Detroit house. When a question emerged regarding the language of the jury instructions as to whether the burned structure was a “dwelling house,” a judge granted defense attorney David A. Moran’s request for a directed verdict.